The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage announced winners of the 2020 “Stop the Hate” essay contest on Thursday, May 14, at 10 a.m. with a surprise reveal. Facebook Live reporter Hannah Drown from Cleveland.com was on-site to broadcast the joy of Hudson High School senior Leah Messemer as she received a $40,000 college scholarship for penning an essay on combating discrimination and advocating for people with disabilities.
Museum and school officials gathered in front of her Hudson home wearing face masks and holding congratulatory signs as “Stop the Hate” committee vice-chair Scott Simon called Leah Messemer’s name from a megaphone to bring her out of the house. That’s when committee chair Darrell McNair handed Leah a symbolic oversized check for a $40,000 four-year college scholarship and her school principal a check for $5,000 to be used toward anti-bias education. The crowd cheered and Leah was asked to read her winning essay live on air.
The video link has been viewed nearly 50,000 times, boasts more than 2,000 reactions, and has received nearly 500 comments and over 150 shares, as Northeast Ohio celebrates the accomplishment of this student upstander.
“Stop the Hate” is a contest celebrating sixth- through 12th-graders standing up and speaking out against bias and bigotry as they compete for the chance to win a prestigious award. Each year, about 3,000 students enter, and with the help of 400 volunteer readers, 25 finalists are named — but there can only be one grand prize winner. In addition to Messemer’s grad prize, many more prizes are awarded, including but not limited to these accomplished students:
$15,000 to First Runner Up, Nia Terrell (grade 12, Charles F. Brush High School)
$10,000 to Second Runner Up, Faicia Giddings (grade 11, Cleveland School for the Arts)
$5,000 to Third Runner Up, Kennedy Fletcher (grade 12, Shaker Heights High School)
To meet all the winners and read their essays, visit MaltzMuseum.org/stop-the-